RIGHT PLACE, WRONG TIME

As any wildlife biologist or avid animal spotter will tell you, persistence is the key to success. To see any animal in its natural environment takes determination, and in the case with dolphins, who can travel upwards of 60 kilometres per day, being in the right place at the right time. After a reasonably unsuccessful previous seven days, the team went out on the Tuesday boat survey with their fingers crossed. We departed from the Ulcinj port at 5:30am to try and catch the dolphins at dawn, when they are most active. While the sea state looked calm in the bay, the swell got bigger when we hit open water. Not only does this make it harder to see dolphins, but left a few team members feeling very sea sick. Despite the less than favourable conditions, spirits remained high!

To ensure that no dolphin escapes our sights the team splits in two; one half scanning the sea and the other half resting their eyes. After one hour the duties are switched and the second group eagerly begin searching. The rolling waves eventually eased, making it easier to find dolphins but unfortunately none appeared. The teams switched duties twice more as we sailed up and down the small stretch of coast. Finally after 4 hours we returned to port unsuccessful.

Searching for elusive marine animals can be time consuming and unrewarding, but it is important to remember why we do it. Gathering data about where the dolphins are not still reveals information about the population’s movements and behaviour. Locals often respond with surprise when they hear that dolphins live in the coastal waters of Montenegro, but we know they are here. So Montenegro Dolphin Project team will continue to spend our time surveying the sea and educating the public about ocean conservation.

Amy Strandquist

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